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Senator Tom Cotton’s Open Challenge to Ayatollah Khamenei and President Obama on Nuclear Deal with Iran

Tall Lincolnesque Arkansas Junior Senator Tom Cotton did his constituents and all Americans proud.  His open letter to Iran’s Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei signed by 47 fellow Republican Senators was a ringing Constitutional declaration of Senate authority to review major international treaties. A rather remarkable achievement for the youngest US Senator  in the 114th Session of Congress following his electoral victory  on November 4, 2014  over incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor.  His letter put on notice the theocratic tyrant in Tehran that the US Senate had the right under Article II, Sec. 2 of our Constitution to advise and consent on treaties negotiated by the Executive branch of our government.  Moreover it put the Supreme notice that Congress has the right to vote on the lifting of any sanctions passed under existing legislation and signed into law by President Obama. Further, it basically informed Iran’s Supreme Ruler and its President that any bilateral agreement entered into by executive order by the President would be null and void upon his leaving office and the end of his second and final term.

Josh Rogin in his Bloomberg report captured the essence of this latest riposte to President Obama in the headline, “Republicans Warn Iran — and Obama — That Deal Won’t Last.”  He noted:

Organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the chamber’s entire party leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the letter is meant not just to discourage the Iranian regime from signing a deal but also to pressure the White House into giving Congress some authority over the process.

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system … Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” the senators wrote. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

Arms-control advocates and supporters of the negotiations argue that the next president and the next Congress will have a hard time changing or canceling any Iran deal — — which is reportedly near done — especially if it is working reasonably well.

Cotton told Rogin:

Iran’s ayatollahs need to know before agreeing to any nuclear deal that … any unilateral executive agreement is one they accept at their own peril.

Rogin went on to note an ironic precedent by Vice President Biden;

Vice President Joe Biden similarly insisted — in a letter to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell — on congressional approval for the Moscow Treaty on strategic nuclear weapons with Russia in 2002, when he was head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He further noted that Cotton’s letter came against the backdrop of recent review legislation:

The new letter is the latest piece of an effort by Senators in both parties to ensure that Congress will have some say if and when a deal is signed. Senators Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham, Tim Kaine and the embattled Bob Menendez have a bill pending that would mandate a Congressional review of the Iran deal, but Republicans and Democrats have been bickering over how to proceed in the face of a threatened presidential veto.

The relevant language of Article II, Sec. 2 of the Constitution reads:

[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.

Article II, Sec. 2 of the Constitution:

Gives the Senate a share in foreign policy by requiring Senate consent, by a two-thirds vote, to any treaty before it may go into effect. The president may enter into “executive agreements” with other nations without the Senate’s consent, but if these involve more than minor matters they may prove controversial.

The emerging so-called phased P5+1 deal to forestall Iran from becoming a threshold nuclear state is anything but “minor.”  The Islamic Republic’s possession of nuclear weapons is a threat to Israel, America and the World.  In the hands of an apocalyptic Mahdist Shiite Islamic Republic nuclear weapons would foment chaos.  The chaos these madmen are eager to trigger they bizarrely believe would bring  about the rise from his slumber their moribund Messiah, the 12th Imam, from the Holy Well in the Holy city of Qom, Iran.  Just recall the first action of former Iranian President Ahmadinejad was to have his cabinet sign a letter to this effect that was deposited in that well in Qom.  Those possible Iranian nuclear weapons and the means of delivery could result in Islamic domination of the World and the possible destruction of both the reviled Great Satan (the U.S.) and Little Satan (Israel).

The reaction from Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif about the open letter to Iran’s leadership was:

In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.

The Democrats in the Senate were apoplectic.  Senate minority leader Harry Reid said, “Republicans are undermining our commander in chief while empowering the ayatollahs.”  White House press Spokesman Josh Earnest said in reaction to the Republican Senate “open letter”:

Just the latest in an ongoing strategy, a partisan strategy, to undermine the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy.

President Obama said:

It’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran.

Sen. Cotton issued this statement following Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address before a Joint Meeting of Congress on March 3rd:

I am happy to welcome a truly courageous leader to address the Congress today.  There is no one better equipped to discuss the danger posed by a nuclear Iran than Prime Minister Netanyahu. For decades, Iran has had as its expressed goal for Israel to be ‘wiped off the face of the earth’ and has been a lead financier and arms supplier of terrorist organizations dedicated to destroying Israel. If Iran is allowed to retain their nuclear program, the United States will find itself in a similar position.

The Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran have become an endless series of concessions. Any deal reached at the end of this month will inevitably empower our enemies and put our national security at risk. It is up to Congress to stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel and restore the credible threat of force against Iran to permanently end their nuclear program.

We wrote this about Senator Cotton when he was elected on November 5, 2014:

Cotton, reading a profile of him by retired Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), had a career that resonated. He was a highly educated double Harvard graduate who voluntarily served as an Infantry officer in the US Army during the Iraq-Afghanistan conflict.  Wisse’s WSJ op-ed   was an unabashed endorsement, “Vote for Tom Cotton—and Redeem Harvard”.

[…]

Cotton is a sixth generation Arkansan from a cattle raising ranching family in the small community of Dardanelle, Arkansas. A graduate of both Harvard College and Law School, motivated by the events of 9/11, he rejected a JAG Commission. Instead, he volunteered   to go through OCS at Fort Benning and trained at both the Infantry and Ranger Schools.  Cotton served from 2005 to 2009. He had two tours, one in Iraq and a second in Afghanistan with the famed Screaming Eagles, the 101st Airborne, rising to the rank of Captain and received a Bronze Star for his combat actions. At 6’5″, he was selected as Platoon Leader at the Old Guard that provides the honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery.

Perhaps the Senator Cotton’s open letter to Iran’s leadership was a forthright confirmation that the Republican leadership in the Congress heard PM Netanyahu’s message.  The letter represented a Constitutional challenge to the Administration asserting the Senate’s rights of review on any agreement that might be reached with Iran by March 31st that also called for lifting Congressional passed sanctions.

RELATED ARTICLE: Israel, Jews, and the Obama Administration

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Arkansas Republican U.S. Senator Tom Cotton.

New York Times features United West Video Expose: LA Top Cop in Bed with Muslim Brotherhood

New York Times Excerpt:

“From the other side of the religious and political spectrum, Chief Downing has been portrayed as the dupe of jihadists. The activist group United West, which contends that Muslims want to impose religious law in America, crashed a community meeting with Chief Downing at a Los Angeles mosque and posted footage of the resulting confrontation on YouTube under the title “LA Top Cop in Bed with Muslim Brotherhood.”

Read more.

Deputy Chief Michael Downing of the Los Angeles Police Department officially partners with the Muslim Brotherhood to fight Muslim terrorism. Downing calls the Muslim Brotherhood “Like Democrats and Republicans.”

Netanyahu Addresses Iran Nuclear Threat at AIPAC — Obama Administration Criticizes

An audience of 16,000 at the AIPAC Washington Policy Conference enthusiastically welcomed Israeli PM Netanyahu’s appearance, today.  Netanyahu’s speech was a prelude to his appearance before a joint Session of Congress tomorrow at 10:45AM EST. It will be televised by Fox-News and C-SPAN.  Fox will have commentary from a panel both prior to and following Netanyahu’s Congressional speech.  The Voice of Israel will broadcast it live via the internet with following commentary.

Some likened today’s remarks as a warm up to the main event on Tuesday, March 3rd. For many of us his AIPAC Conference remarks today were punctuated by his eloquent Churchillian cadences. Other lines echoed Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s 1938 Tish B’Av “Ihr Kommt” (they’re coming) speech to Jews in Poland warning them of their impending destruction during Hitler’s Final Solution, the Holocaust. Other lines were  reminiscent of Churchill’s caustic Parliamentary remarks on the Munich 1938 appeasement by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and  French Premier Eduard Daladier acceding to Hitler’s demand that Czech President Eduard Benes unilaterally cede Sudetenland thus dismembering Czechoslovakia. All while Chamberlain waved that scrap of paper upon arrival at Heston aerodrome saying that he had achieved “peace for our times”. That imagery was captured in Netanyahu’s lavish praise heaped on Czech President Zeman who was on the dais at the AIPAC conference. Netanyahu thanked Zeman for the country’s enduring support for Zionism espoused by Czech Republic founder Thomas Masyrk and the material support the Czechs provided post WWII to Israel during the 1948-1949 War for Independence. That was captured in Netanyahu’s reference in his speech to the Czech rifle he trained with as an IDF Sayeret Matkal member.

Netanyahu paid copious respects to AIPAC officials,  noted “no disrespect to President Obama”, and  pledged fealty to the long enduring bi-partisan US relations with ally Israel.  An Israel, as he pointed out, that shared common Western values of freedom, liberty, civil and human rights for the Jewish nation’s citizens. He noted as one example prominent women jurists on its High Court and as CEOs of Israeli companies.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10_40_03 AM

Screen shot of  Global Map of Iran Terror used by  PM Netanyahu at 2015 AIPAC. For a larger view click on the map.

He spoke clearly about why he was in Washington:

The purpose of my address to Congress tomorrow is to speak up about a potential deal with Iran that could threaten the survival of Israel. Iran is the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Look at that graph. Look at that map. And you see on the wall, it shows Iran training, arming, dispatching terrorists on five continents. Iran envelopes the entire world with its tentacles of terror. This is what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons. Imagine what Iran would do with nuclear weapons.

And this same Iran vows to annihilate Israel. If it develops nuclear weapons, it would have the means to achieve that goal. We must not let that happen.

And as prime minister of Israel, I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there’s still time to avert them. For 2,000 years, my people, the Jewish people, were stateless, defenseless, voiceless. We were utterly powerless against our enemies who swore to destroy us. We suffered relentless persecution and horrific attacks. We could never speak on our own behalf, and we could not defend ourselves.

Well, no more, no more.

The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us, those days are over. Today in our sovereign state of Israel, we defend ourselves. And being able to defend ourselves, we ally with others, most importantly, the United States of America, to defend our common civilization against common threats.

In our part of the world and increasingly, in every part of the world, no one makes alliances with the weak. You seek out those who have strength, those who have resolve, those who have the determination to fight for themselves. That’s how alliances are formed.

Watch this C-span video of Israeli PM Netanyahu’s remarks at the 2015 AIPAC Conference.

U.S. UN Ambassador Power, speaking at AIPAC today, accorded respect for the enduring US-Israel alliance.   She also said that the Administration would stop Iran from achieving a nuclear breakthrough:

            The United States of America will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, Period.

We believe diplomacy is the preferred route to secure our shared aim. But if diplomacy fails, we know the stakes of a nuclear-armed Iran as well as everyone here. We will not let it happen. There will never be a sunset on America’s commitment to Israel’s security. Never.

 However, she tossed a barb at both Netanyahu and House Speaker Boehner for engaging in partisan politics with her remarks:

This partnership should never be politicized, and it cannot and will not be tarnished or broken. Debating the merits of a deal with Iran is legitimate. Politicizing that process is not. The stakes are too high for that.

 For her appearance as an Administration senior official, she received a standing ovation from the 16,000 attendees at the Washington Convention Center site of the Conference.

Watch this C-Span video of US UN Ambassador Power’s remarks at the 2015 AIPAC conference.

More of the same followed from another Administration senior official, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, when she mounted the podium at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to deliver her remarks.  Rice appeared to be toeing the Administration line saying, “sound bites won’t stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”  Rice essentially denied the possibility of ending Iran’s nuclear enrichment saying:

[ getting Iran to] forego its domestic enrichment capacity entirely… as desirable as that would be … is neither realistic nor achievable. The plain fact is no one can make Iran unlearn the scientific and nuclear expertise it already possesses.

She cautioned that it wasn’t a “viable negotiating position” to attempt to block Iran from using its nuclear capacity for domestic energy reasons.

Now I want to be very clear: a bad deal is worse than no deal,

We have Israel’s back come hell or high water.

Given Iran’s support for terrorism, the risk of a nuclear arms race in the region, and the danger to the entire global non-proliferation regime, Iran with a nuclear weapon would not just be a threat to Israel, it’s also an unacceptable threat to the United States of America.

Given Iran’s support for terrorism, the risk of a nuclear arms race in the region, and the danger to the entire global non-proliferation regime, Iran with a nuclear weapon would not just be a threat to Israel, it’s also an unacceptable threat to the United States of America.

We have Israel’s back come hell or high water.

On sanctions, Rice made it abundantly clear why the Administration opposed any new legislation, saying:

We cannot let a totally unachievable ideal stand in the way of a good deal [with Iran]. Sanctions, have never stopped Iran from advancing its [nuclear] program. New sanctions would blow up the talks, divide the international community, and cause the U.S. to be blamed for causing negotiations with Iran to fail.

Not unlike Power, Rice received a standing ovation ironically for policies that she opposes. Note what blog Twitchy reported:

The highlight of her speech was undoubtedly the standing ovation she received for acknowledging the desire for a complete halt to Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. The look on her face while waiting for the cheers to die down so she could add “but” and finish her sentence: priceless.

Watch this You Tube video of the AIPAC audience applauding her and her befuddled expression:

That effectively shot down the faint hopes of many of the 16,000 in the Convention Center.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), co-author of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015 with new sanctions, stormed up to the podium at AIPAC to rebut Rice.  He said:

Iran needs to understand that there are consequences to an impasse and those consequences are additional consequential sanctions.

As long as I have an ounce of fight left in me… Iran will never have a pathway to a weapon.

It will never threaten Israel or its neighbors, and it will never be in a position to star a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Not on my watch.

Secretary of State Kerry, speaking from Geneva, Switzerland  earlier today in the midst of   discussions with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, voiced  concerns that ‘leaks’ by Israel might jeopardize the phased deal.  Kerry said:

We are concerned by reports that suggest selective details of the ongoing negotiations will be discussed publicly in the coming days. Doing so would make it more difficult to reach the goal that Israel and others say they share in order to get to a good deal. Israel’s security is absolutely at the forefront of all of our minds, but frankly so is the security of all of the other countries in the region. So is our security.

 Kerry made a  brief appearance at the UN Human Rights Commission today in Geneva voicing concerns  about the panel’s  pre-occupation with isolating Israel, saying:

We will oppose any effort by any group or participant in the U.N. system to arbitrarily and regularly delegitimize or isolate, Israel. No country should be free from scrutiny on human rights, but no country should be subjected to unfair or unfounded bias.

President Obama in a Reuters interview several hours after Netanyahu’s speech at AIPAC expressed the view that the current discord would not seriously disrupt relations with Israel. Nevertheless he harshly criticized Netanyahu’s refrain about a bad deal emerging from the bi-lateral diplomatic discussions with Iran. He suggested the emerging 10 year deal with verifications was:

Far more effective in controlling their nuclear program than any military action we could take, any military action Israel could take and far more effective than sanctions will be.

He then took exception to Netanyahu’s criticism of the 2013 interim agreement with Iran:

Netanyahu made all sorts of claims. This was going to be a terrible deal. This was going to result in Iran getting $50 billion worth of relief. Iran would not abide by the agreement. None of that has come true. It has turned out that in fact, during this period we’ve seen Iran not advance its program. In many ways, it’s rolled back elements of its program.

Watch this video of the Reuters interview with President Obama on March 2, 2015.

The Administration still hasn’t fully understood the import of the Gallup poll of Americans, 84% of whom expressed distrust of Iran, while 77% believed Iran should be denied becoming a nuclear threshold state.  As one audience member said at a presentation in Northwest Florida, Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon was a threat not only to Israel, but America as well.

An expectant Israel and the world awaits Netanyahu’s address before a joint session of Congress tomorrow.

Listen to this Voice of Israel Sound Cloud of Netanyahu’s speech at AIPAC.  The full text of Netanyahu’s AIPAC remarks can be found in this release by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

RELATED ARTICLE: Iran says it rejects Obama’s demand for 10-year nuclear work halt

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu at AIPAC Washington Policy Conference taken on March 2, 2015. Source: GPO/Amos Ben Gershom.

Good or Bad? Obama’s Phased Deal with Iran’s Nuclear Program

Earlier today, the New York Times (NYT) had breaking news about a phased deal that may be the basis for an agreement with Iran on or before March 24th.   We understand from sources in Geneva that Secretary of State Kerry had apparently been in discussions with Iranian negotiations over proposed terms. According to the Times report by Michael Gordon (no relation) and David Sanger, American and Iranian officials have concluded talks on limiting Iran’s nuclear program for “at least” ten years.

The proposed plan would limit Iran’s ability to produce nuclear material during the ten year period but slowly ease restrictions on their program. According to the article, “By phasing in a gradual easing of limits on Iran’s production, Mr. Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, who joined the negotiations for the first time, aim to extend the length of a potential deal. American officials said they would insist that Iran face hard constraints for ‘at least a double-digit number of years.'”

The reality is rather different according to reliable sources, who report that t he United States has concluded an agreement with Iran on a nuclear deal which allows them to advance their nuclear capability, even as it appears to limit it.

The deal calls for a ten year program which will include the replacement of all of their existing centrifuges with next generation centrifuges in addition to 3,000 additional units, all to be supplied by Russia. Public reporting of this is supposed to show the imposition of limitation of Iranian nuclear development, but in reality it will open the door to their nuclear capability in ten years or less.

Our sources report that the deal was completed on Saturday (not Monday as reported by the NYT ) and is likely to be confirmed by the State Department later this week.

According to U.S. law, the deal has to be ratified by an advise and consent process in U.S. Senate. However, our sources report that the Administration may try to avoid this requirement through Executive Order. It appears that the President is determined to complete this deal one way or another as part of his legacy. In part, the deal may have facilitated by Valerie Jarrett, a close personal adviser to the President with friends in the Iranian hierarchy. They draw from her childhood years in Shiraz, Iran where her father, a physician, was on staff at Nemazee Hospital. Our sources confirm that during the 2012 Presidential re-election campaign, Jarrett had opened up back-channel discussions with Iranian contacts that may have resulted in the Interim agreement in November 2013.  Should an official announcement appear this week, it may likely set the stage for Congressional hearings with Secretary Kerry, Undersecretary Wendy Sherman, and Mr. Moniz of the Department of Energy and independent experts about whether this is a deal that this nation can accept.

This announcement comes just before the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been invited to speak before a Joint Session of Congress on March 3rd.  Where an Iranian nuclear capability may seem like a danger to the US, half a world away, to Israel an Iranian bomb is an existential threat; Iran has on many occasions openly threatened Israel with annihilation.

It was particularly disturbing that just prior to the announcement about the agreement in Geneva, the U.S. announced that it would no longer share intelligence about the talks with Israel.

In a speech to a meeting of the Council of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem last week, Netanyahu said,  “If  an Iran deal is good, why hide it from Israel?” and then reiterated that he will “do everything in my power to prevent the conclusion of a bad deal that could threaten the survival of the State of Israel.”

The text  of the agreement has not yet been made public. When it does, the details will likely be shrouded in language that will obscure the deeper intentions of the Obama administration. An Iranian nuclear capability will be a threat to the Middle East and Europe whenever it comes, and only a complete and enforceable prohibition will be an acceptable conclusion to the talks that hold the future stability of the region, and perhaps the world, in the balance. It seems, however, that the Obama administration does not share this view, and in agreeing to it, will open the door to a new and deadly nuclear weapons race.

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‘Destructive’ Obama’s National Security Advisor slams Netanyahu for damaging the U.S.-Israel alliance

As U.S. Grapples With Global Threats, This Is How We Should Approach National Security

AP: Obama Gives Iran the Bomb

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured photo is of Secretary Of State John Kerry in Geneva. Source: Credit Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone, via AP.

The President’s Conference and its message: “Think Again, Turn Away”

Today starts a three day conference in Foggy Bottom at which President Obama will appear before an audience of representatives from 60 countries dealing with the threat of “violent extremism”.  The White House and State Department have made it abundantly clear that they refuse to identify the perpetrators and the victims of the Paris Charlie Hebdo and Kosher Supermarket attacks, this weekend’s attacks in Copenhagen, among them Jews, and the grisly beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya by ISIS.  The critics of this no name policy suggest that if you cannot define the threat of radical Islam and its basis, Qur’anic doctrine and Sharia Islamic law,  that you can’t develop a strategy for “degrading “and” defeating” the Islamic State.

Given what happened in Egypt’s Sinai and this past weekend in Libya, the area of conflict with IS might be expanded to include North Africa and, obviously, the West, given the attacks in France, Belgium and Denmark, as well as America and Canada. Thus the “violent extremism” conference will focus on warning potential IS recruits of foreign fighters from across the globe to “Think Again, Turn Away.” That message is  being  refined by the State Department  Center  for Strategic Counter-terrorism Communications (CSCC) set up under an executive order issued by President  Obama in 2011. Otherwise, the recruits might end up dead either as suicide bombers or at the hands of IS masterminds. The CSCC has a daunting task. According to its website:

CSCC is comprised of three interactive components. The integrated analysis component leverages the Intelligence Community and other substantive experts to ensure CSCC communicators benefit from the best information and analysis available. The plans and operations component draws on this input to devise effective ways to counter the terrorist narrative. The Digital Outreach Team actively and openly engages in Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, and Somali to counter terrorist propaganda and misinformation about the United States across a wide variety of interactive digital environments that had previously been ceded to extremists.

As a New York Times (NYTarticle on the conference pointed out the State Department CSCC coordinator, Ambassador Alberto Fernandez is leaving shortly after trying to lead the messaging effort across a broad spectrum of competing internal State, Homeland Security and intelligence echelons. This comment by former State Department counterterrorism coordinator Daniel Benjamin sums up why Fernandez will retire in April, 2015. “After its first year or two, it was never taken seriously and got little support from higher-ups.”

The CSCC has endeavored to communicate that the IS Salafist jihadist slick presentations in videos, tweets and Face book pages corrupts the central message of Islam of “peace and justice” – that is only to adherents of the faith. In point of fact, the IS following in the way of Allah, Jihad.

How slick is the IS agit-propaganda spewed out on-line to the unwary recruit? One recent example is reflected in a new release translated by MEMRI, entreating recruits to come to Libya and join the gateway to the Conquest of Rome – a thought that should be unnerving to Pope Francis. The NYT CSCC article cited as examples of effective “messaging”:

One online image two years ago, for instance, showed photographs of three American men who traveled to Somalia and died there, including Omar Hammami, a young man from Alabama who became an infamous Islamist militant. The accompanying message reads, “They came for jihad but were murdered by Al Shabaab.”

Another image showed a young man weeping over a coffin. The message read, “How can slaughtering the innocent be the right path?”

Each of the online posts carried a warning: “Think again. Turn away.”

Last June, Islamic State supporters warned fighters to beware of the center’s Twitter account and not to interact with it.

The reality of the CSCC mission, is that it has been corrupted- to quote Egyptian President Al-Sisi- by the origin of  IS and Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).  As late as January 2015, the State Department was caught in a conference with alleged Egyptian MB leaders.  There were graphic messages on twitter set against the backdrop of the Seal of the State Department by one of the participants flashing the ‘rabbia’ hand sign-a signal to support ousted President Morsi and hundreds of others currently being tried for sedition in Egypt.  Last May, the State Department was embarrassed by a tweet it sent about the presence at a White House meeting on messaging with Sheik Bin Bayyah, a deputy to notorious MB preacher, Yusuf Al Qaradawi.  Bin Bayyah had been there before along with another Egyptian legislator and member of a terrorist group in 2013.

The President’s Conference on Violent Extremism is being stage managed by a skilled media expert, Richard Stengel, former Time Magazine managing editor, who was appointed in 2013 as Undersecretary Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.  Stengel will be assisted at the Conference by Ambassador Rashad Hussein, current Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and former Deputy White House Counsel with MB connections.  Stengel admits that countering the ISIS supremacy in messaging its appeal to young impressionable Muslim recruits is daunting. He was cited by the New York Times saying, “We’re getting beaten on volume, so the only way to compete is by aggregating, curating and amplifying existing content…. These guys [meaning IS] aren’t BuzzFeed; they’re not invincible in social media.”

Last fall, Stengel was interviewed by the Voice of America while in the midst of the propaganda war with IS:

VOA: What are some challenges in terms of dealing or confronting the ISIS propaganda machine?

Stengel: There are a lot of challenges. They are very sophisticated. They will stop at nothing, so to speak. They are not bound by the truth in any way. There are structural problems in the Middle East and the Arab world that can sometimes make Daesh’s ideology attractive, attractive to young men who don’t have jobs, who don’t see a great future for themselves, who have only heard a kind of misbegotten idea of Islam. So that is part of the challenge. What we’re trying to say, along with the coalition partners, is that Daesh is not the true face of Islam, it doesn’t represent what the prophet or the Koran stands for, and that the vision they’re creating of a caliphate is a false vision where none of the things they say are true are true.

Clearly, Stengel is toeing the White House line that IS is ‘misinterpreting’ Islam, even as  some scholars believe it is reflecting the core doctrine of Salafist/Jihad.

Last October, Stengel appeared at a forum on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California’s Center for Public Diplomacy (CPD).  Watch the video of his talk and Q&A here:

USC Professor of Journalism and International Relations Phillip Seib in a CPD article suggested that countering ISIS messaging capability is in the wrong place at State’s CSCC. Rather it should be transferred to the CIA. He wrote:

A much more effective approach to combat their message would be a bare-knuckles operation: no disclaimers and a product that matches up better against the videos coming from Al Hayat, ISIL’s video production arm (the name stolen from the pan-Arab newspaper, Al-Hayat).

These videos should feature imams denouncing ISIL’s tactics and women urging their sisters not to be enticed by ISIL’s recruiting messages. They should include video testimony from disillusioned ISIL fighters who have returned home. And they should show the ravaged Muslim communities that have been attacked by ISIL. But few anti-ISIL speakers want to participate in a State Department-branded video. And even fewer jihadist recruits believe it. American credibility in the region remains low, and many Muslims are wary of a new round of U.S. involvement in their homelands.

Our comment on the President’s “violent extremism” Conference this week in Washington is soft power is trumped by raw Islamic Jihad every time. That is embodied in failure to recognize the Qur’anic doctrine behind the rise of IS. To paraphrase the CSCC motto, “Think Again, Turn Away” from Taqiyya – lying for Allah.

RELATED ARTICLE: Islamic supremacist groups including Hamas-linked CAIR say Obama terror summit wrongly singles out Muslims

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Bibigate – The Contretemps over Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Last Saturday night a retired U.S. Navy officer said “I’ll bet you even money that Bibi will withdraw from the proposed speech before a joint session of Congress”. I joshed him and said “I wouldn’t count on it.”

Sunday, I received suggestions that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should have a Plan B given the rising contretemps in the media over US House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to talk about Iran before a Joint Session of Congress. There  was a welter of criticism from the White House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and mainstream media talking heads  included David Brooks of the New York Times and  Chris Wallace and Shepherd Smith of  FoxNews.  They were admonishing Speaker Boehner and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer with terms like “dicey, wicked more for photo op” and “partisan politics” and “unwise for Israel.”  It was ostensibly about the lack of courtesy shown the President by not giving prior notice to the White House of the invitation extended to Netanyahu.  There was pique by certain unnamed senior officials in the White House over what some might call Bibigate.

However, let us remember there was increasing  bi-partisan support for new Iran nuclear sanctions legislation despite  the President’s warning that he would veto it if it was passed. New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez was particularly incensed at the President for his questioning his motivations.  Menendez said: “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran. And it feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization, when they are the ones with the original sin.”  Lest, we forget, the President had threatened a veto if increased Iran legislation passed.  It was abundantly clear in the January 16th Joint Press Conference at the White House when the President Obama agreed with UK PM David Cameron’s remarks, urging Senators on Capitol Hill not to take up new sanctions legislation at a “sensitive time”. Thus, one could speculate that Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu on January 21st to speak to a Joint Session of Congress in early March was a rebuttal to the President.

The rancor over Bibigate was visible in the final week of January into February.  Wednesday, January 28thCNN released a clip of Fareed Zakaria’s February 1st GPS interview with President Obama.  Obama suggested that a visit with Netanyahu was “inappropriate,” as it was too close to the upcoming March Knesset elections.  The President said, “I’m declining to meet with him simply because our general policy is, we don’t meet with any world leader two weeks before their election, [I] think that’s inappropriate. And that’s true with some of our closest allies.”  Those comments engendered another rebuttal that the White House may have been giving tacit support to the involvement of Presidential Campaign aide Jim Byrd in advising the Labor-Hanuat opposition to Netanyahu in the Knesset general elections.

Friday, January 30th, Jeffrey Goldberg published an interview in The Atlantic with Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, a former US Republican strategist and member of the Netanyahu’s inner circle.   Dermer discussed the background for Boehner’s issuance of the invitation to Netanyahu to speak to Congress on Iran. Dermer suggested that while the Prime Minister “meant no disrespect towards President Obama … Netanyahu must speak up while there is still time to speak up”.

That led Cornell Law Professor William Jacobson on the blog Legal Insurrection to opine that Obama’s not offended; he just wants Bibi out of office.

The Hill round up on the Sunday Talk shows had comments from Rep. Paul Ryan on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Arizona Senator John McCain on CNN’s “State of The Union.”  Over the issue of Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu Ryan said,” The Invitation to Israeli prime minister was ‘absolutely’ appropriate. I don’t know if I would say it’s antagonizing”.  McCain drew attention to the new low in U.S. – Israel relations under Obama saying, “It’s the worst that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”

Virtually out of nowhere, Sunday, February 1st, commentary from an “Insight” blog post of the Israeli Institute for National Security Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University shed light on a bizarre theory of what was behind Bibigate.  The author of the INSS post, Zaki Shalom, suggested:

The backdrop for the Administration’s expressed dissatisfaction with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intention to present his position on negotiations with Iran to Congress, creating a rather transparent linkage between Israel’s positions on negotiations with Iran and sanctions, and U.S. willingness to assist in combating the Palestinian attempt to exert international legal and diplomatic pressure on Israel.

On Thursday, January 30, 2015, the Senate Banking Committee voted out a ‘softer’ version of the Kirk –Menendez Sanctions legislation by a vote of 18 to 4, including six Democrats.  As reported by The Hill, the legislation:

… Would impose sanctions on Iran if a comprehensive agreement to roll back its nuclear program is not reached by June 30 and would allow the president to waive sanctions indefinitely for 30 days at a time.

However, the bill would be shelved until March 24th for a possible floor vote.  Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) said, “All of us understand it’s not going to be voted on before March 24”. While the measure may portend a possible override vote should President Obama veto it that still requires Senator Menendez to keep the group of 17 Democratic Senators who support this version of sanctions legislation in the bi-partisan alliance.

Israeli concern over a weak final agreement by March 24th  is reflected  in a Times of Israel report published  Sunday, February 1st,” US sources deride Israeli ‘nonsense’ on Obama giving in to Iran.”  Israeli  sources contend that Iran is likely to get 80 % of what it is seeking- the ability to continue enrichment with  upwards of 9,000 centrifuges, especially the advanced IR-2s. The Israelis believe that would give Iran nuclear breakout within weeks.  Add to that mix Iran flaunting pictures in a ToA  report of a Medium Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) capable of covering all of Europe. That is to be followed in 2015 to 2016 by one cap ICBM range. Of course there a number of us who believe that Iran may already have purchased nuclear weapons from rogue regimes, but may lack nuclear warheads, which are likely to be supplied by North Korea to be mounted on those ICBMs.

Especially as the President observed, there is less than a 50/50 chance of reaching an agreement. Then assuming the current polls are correct and Bibi retains the ability to form a new Knesset coalition after the March 17th election, he may speak with both authority and strength.

As a usual astute observer of Israel from Europe, Imre Herzog, opined when I wrote him on my side bet “you might win the bet”.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Washington Times File Photo  5-24-2011.

U.S. Veterans and Families Sue Six Banks Accused of Financing Iran Terror Groups

Just prior to Veterans Day, November 10, 2014, a lawsuit was filed in the Eastern Federal District Court in Brooklyn, New York against six major international banks allegedly engaged in transfers of funds with a leading Iranian bank. The defendants in the action include HSBC Bank USA, Barclays, London’s Standard Chartered Bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Credit Suisse, and London-based Iranian Bank Saderat.  The suit is on behalf of more than 200 plaintiffs Veterans and families of US service personnel and a journalist killed or maimed in Iraq. Attacks that occurred over the period from 2004 to 2008 by terrorist groups affiliated with Iran’s Quds Force and its proxy Hezbollah.  Over 80 wounded veterans are among the plaintiffs, many victims of Improvised Explosive Devices (I.E.D.).  The suit by the plaintiffs is requesting a jury trial.

The New York Times in its account of the lawsuit drew from the complaint compelling examples of the victims of Iran’s Quds Force and Hezbollah attacks in Iraq:

The sneak attack on the compound outside Baghdad in January 2007, the lawsuit said, was the work of a terrorist group “trained and armed by Iran’s Quds Force with Hezbollah’s assistance.” Once inside the compound, the group sprayed bullets and lobbed grenades, killing several American soldiers, including 20-year-old Jonathon M. Millican, who jumped on one of the grenades. Mr. Millican’s widow and father joined the lawsuit, along with the families of three other soldiers killed in that attack and a surviving soldier who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The journalist, Steven Vincent, was kidnapped and shot in August 2005. His widow, mother and father are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Christopher M. Hake was on his second tour of duty in Iraq in March 2008 when an Iranian-manufactured explosive device went off near his vehicle and killed him.

The NYT noted this example of flagrant disregard by one of the six banks accused in the complaint caught evading financial sanctions against dealings with Iranian financial institutions:

The lawsuit cites a series of emails and conversations taken  from the banks’ settlements with federal prosecutors, offering a lens inside the banks’ flagrant disregard for sanctions against Iran. A Standard Chartered executive, in response to concerns raised by an employee in New York, reportedly replied: “You f–ing Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians?”

The Eastern District Brooklyn federal court figured prominently in a jury verdict in the case of Almog v. Arab Bank  rendered in September 2014. The plaintiffs were 6,000 terrorist victims of more than 24 Hamas attacks involving Americans and families in Israel. The jury found the Jordan- based Arab Bank liable for transfers to the terrorist group Hamas.  The Arab Bank suit presiding federal Judge is now determining how best to handle the damages assessment phase.   Both lawsuits were filed under the 1990 U.S. Antiterrorism Act that provided a civil cause of actions for international acts of terrorism and an extraterritorial jurisdiction in federal courts.  Some of the lawyers in this current suit were also counsel in the Arab Bank matter.

There are similar cases pending against the Bank of China, NatWest and Crédit Lyonnais.  One example is the $338 million damages award against the Bank of China in 2012 in a verdict by a DC federal court in a case brought by Shurat HaDin Israel law Center of Tel Aviv headed by Nitsana Darshan Leitner and US co-counsel New York attorney Robert Tolchin.  The Center and US counsel brought the suit on behalf of the family of the late Danny Wultz of Weston, Florida who was mortally wounded in a Palestinian terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in 2006. The terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad involved in perpetrating the attack used funds provided by Iran through transfers via the Bank of China.

Washington Free Beacon report on the suit noted the arguments contained in the plaintiffs compliant:

The veterans argue that the banks helped Iran illegally move “billions of dollars” to terrorist entities that later targeted U.S. troops in attacks.

The suit alleges these banks are knowingly acting as key cogs in Iran’s efforts to evade U.S. sanctions and provide “material support” to Hezbollah and other terror groups, which, at Tehran’s behest, have carried out attacks against U.S. interests in Iraq.

“Defendants’ unlawful conduct was purposefully directed at the United States, and the conspiracy was specifically designed to effectuate the flow of billions of U.S. dollars through the United States in violation of U.S. laws, and in fact resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars illegally passing through the United States,” plaintiffs argue in the complaint filed by New Jersey-based Osen & Associates.

The veterans and their families are seeking an unspecified amount of damages from the banks as a result of their alleged support for Iranian terrorism.

The suit alleges that the international banks in question were “knowingly” part of a “conspiracy” by Iran to skirt international sanctions.

The lawsuit explains in great detail how Iran has funneled money to Hezbollah and other terror entities in Iraq. Iranian money, the suit alleges, was spent to train terrorists and arm them with IEDs and other weapons typically used to kill and wound U.S. soldiers.

The context of this latest US antiterrorism suit-Iran’s Quds Force involved with proxy Hezbollah fighting US forces in the Iraq War-comes at a time when the Administration has reached out to Iran’s Supreme Ruler, Ayatollah Khamenei seeking the Islamic  Regime’s  assistance in fighting the Islamic State, ISIS.  Already heavily engaged in Iraq advising the Iraqi national security forces on how to combat ISIS is none other than the head of the Quds Force, Qassem Suleymani, along with Hezbollah operatives.

We hope that this federal lawsuit at least finds these major banks dealing with Iranian financial institutions complicit in the terror financing of Al Quds and Hezbollah who killed Americans and maimed US vets for life.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Was it Terrorism or “Senseless Violence” that occurred in Canada?

At 9:52 AM EDT in Ottawa long haired 32 year old Michael Zehaf Bibeau wearing a black and white scarf and dressed in black   equipped with a double-barreled shot gun, stormed Canada’s War Memorial on Capitol Hill in Ottawa. He shot and fatally wounded a member of The Honor Guard , 24 year old Pvt. Nathan  Cirllio , a reservist with the Argyll and Sutherland Regiment who was on duty with a companion  who was wounded in the attack.  According to the Toronto Globe and Mail, Zehaf-Bibeau was considered to have been “a high risk traveller and had his passport revoked”.

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Michael Zehaf Bibeau : Source ISIS Tweet. For a larger view click on the image.

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Kevin Vickers, Sergeant at Arms,  Ottawa Parliament.

Bibeau then drove to the Parliament building in a stolen black automobile with no license tags. He ran with weapon in hand into the Parliamentary center complex apparently running past  a room where Canadian PM Harper was speaking. In the ensuing gun battle Bibeau was shot dead at approximately 10:30AM by Kevin Vickers, the Sergeant at Arms before he could barge into the Caucus room filled with various party delegation  members.  Wednesdays are busy days in Canada’s parliament as  there are also tours   for visitors.   While the Sergeant at Arms is an honorific post at the Canadian Parliament, Vickers is in charge of protection for the Parliamentary Center complex.  He was appointed  to this post in 2005. In 2009, Vickers was given an award by a  Canadian Progressive Muslim group for his unbiased multicultural  security practices. He was a trained law enforcement officer, former member of the famed Royal Canadian Mounted Police who served 25 years including stints in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

MPs gathered for the  Wednesday caucus overheard 20 to 30 shots fired. The entire parliamentary district, several embassies , including the US , and  the  nearby Rideau  Mall Center remained  locked down, while police comb the area in search for rumored accomplices. Prime Minister Harper was escorted to safety. However, his trip to Toronto to attend a ceremony conferring an honorary Canadian Citizenship on Pakistani teenage Noble Laureate Malala Yousafzai was unavoidably cancelled.

Upon hearing the news, social media in Ottawa and Canada lit up with expressions of thoughts and prayers for the family of Pvt. Cirillo and concerns for the safety of those in Ottawa under lockdown.

ISIS immediately sent out a picture of Zehaf Bibeau.  Bibeau, has had a troubled family life and  number of convictions for possession  and distribution of drug s and parole violations. In 2011, he was arrested  in Vancouver on assault and robbery charges. In 2012 he was arrested on additional charges of making threats in Vancouver. The ferocity of the attack in Ottawa by Bibeau  indicates he was highly motivated and aggrieved. Bibeau’s  murderous actions may have been  Jihadist inspired by ISIS given his use of the terrorist group’s Twitter site.

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Martin Couture-Rouleau from his Facebook page.

Then is the similar  case of  25 year old Martin Couture-Rouleau, who flouted his newly adopted Islamic Jihadist faith and its doctrine of hate towards Jews, Christians and other unbelievers in posts on his  Facebook  page .  As a result of his new found faith he succumbed to the excesses of murderous and barbaric  ISIS.  What is interesting in Couture-Rouleau’s case was that the anti-terrorism unit of the RCMP had been monitoring his social media and  chatter focusing on his intention to leave to join ISIS.  That was prompted by his parents’ calls to the police concerned about his newly adopted  views  espoused at the local mosque he attended  near Montreal.   Apparently under Canadian law there wasn’t enough evidence to connect him to a terrorist group after his arrest In July, 2014,  before boarding a flight to Turkey to join ISIS.  He was  subsequently  released to regularly meet with Police until just before   he perpetrated Monday’s vehicular murder.  Like Bibeau, following his arrest, he had his passport removed as  “a high risk traveller”. Superintendent Martine Fontaine of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said at a televised news conference:

It’s very difficult to know exactly what an individual is planning to do before a crime is committed,” Superintendent Fontaine said. “We cannot arrest someone for thinking radical thoughts; it is not a crime in Canada.

Prime Minister  Harper announced Canada’s joining  the US led Operation Inherent Resolve with a Canadian Air Force  F-18 squadron to conduct air operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.  That triggered a spike in social media by the Islamic State calling for Jihadist wannabees to attack Canadian and US military.  Couture-Rouleau’s  jihadist  attack  culminated Monday, October 20, 2014  in his running down two Canada Force soldiers  at  a strip mall  in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.  He killed  53 year old Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and wounded the other serviceman. Police shot and apprehended   Couture-Rouleau.  Following  today’s Ottawa attack, the Canadian federal  government issued a  temporary ban on use of many public places to prevent a repetition.  Ironically, Canadian  Public Safety Minister  Blaney raised the Canadian national terrorism threat level to “medium” on Tuesday , just prior to today’s attack in Ottawa.

In the U.S.,  today’s attack that killed a member of  the Canadian Honor Guard  at the Ottawa National War Memorial ,prompted  the Administration to bolster security at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Virginia’s Arlington National  Cemetery. The U.S. is concerned about the emergence of self-actualized jihadist supporters in our midst.  An example is  the prison convert  to Islam who beheaded a fellow woman employee in Moore, Oklahoma. Then this week there was the apprehension of three underage Denver area girls from  Sudan and Somali émigré families who left unannounced, boarding a flight in Colorado only to be apprehended by German police when they arrived in Frankfurt before they  could board  a connecting flight to Turkey.  Their ultimate destination was Syria to join ISIS.  Both the Canadian attacks and US one  raises the policy question about how to combat the jihadist theocratic message of ISIS. That message is anchored in the Qur’anic canon of  foundational documents and  codified  under Shariah law in the ‘sacred manual’, The Reliance of the Traveler.

President Obama  was interviewed in the Oval Office following a phone conversation with  Canadian PM Harper. He  conveyed  the collective thoughts and concerns of this country  for what Canada has endured this week.  Choosing his language carefully to avoid any  controversy over what motivates such actions , he condemned what he termed “senseless violence”.  PM Harper said that “a terrorist murdered the  soldier in cold blood”.

Mark Steyn, American-Canadian  commentator and author of the recently released  book Undocumented, was interviewed on Neal Cavuto’s Fox News program today. He said, “violence against the state isn’t “senseless”.  Steyn  thought the President’s “senseless violence”  comment  brought to mind the  equivocating  term “ workplace violence”, as  in the Moore, Oklahoma beheading and Maj. Nidal Hassan‘s murderous jihad rampage at Fort Hood in 2009. Steyn instead  put the blame  for this week’s Montreal and Ottawa  attacks  squarely on Canada’s policy of multi-culturalism that tolerates Islamic theocratic doctrine supporting the barbarity of ISIS and similar Jihadist, Salafist groups.  He noted that while ISIS beheads  captive unbelievers  and violators of  Sharia, so does Wahhabist Saudi Arabia, an ally of the U.S. in the coalition of Operation  Inherent Resolve.

David B. Harris, former planning director for the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) and columnist on counterterrorism, spoke by phone with Cavuto about  Canada’s  dilemma. He was asked  if he thought the  Ottawa  event was a terrorist attack? He suggested  that, while it required confirmation, it certainly had the appearance of one. However, Harris  said that Canada may be unprepared for more such attacks in view of the significant number of Canadians who have left to join up with ISIS.  They  include  some who have become prominent ISIS  spokespersons, who may return to foster such domestic terrorism.  He drew attention to  a  Canadian Senate  testimony by Michel Coulombe the current head of  CSIS, who  indicated that Canada could be overwhelmed by such  ISIS inspired homegrown  terrorist  threats lacking the resources and legal means to combat them.

Watch this Fox News report  video report on the shootout today inside the Canadian Parliament:

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review. The featured image is of police officers take cover near Parliament Hill following a shooting incident in Ottawa October 22, 2014. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Did ISIS Perpetrate the Damascus Sarin Gas Attack in 2013?

When we posted on the special MERIA report by Jon Spyer on the probable ISIS Chemical Weapons  (CW) attack that killed Kurdish YPG fighters in the village of Avdiko near Kobani, Syria, we referenced the mid-2013 gassing that killed 1,500 in the suburbs of Damascus “by the Assad regime”.  However, there is evidence indicating that the horrific sarin attack in August 2013 may not have been perpetrated by the Assad regime at all, but rather it may have been the work of ISIS.  Recent experience with ISIS demonstrates their willingness to behave far beyond the capabilities of any other terrorist organization. Moreover, the situation in Syria is complex, to the point of being bewildering to the Western mind. To oversimplify the events that take place in this strange and deadly war is both foolish and dangerous.

ISIS began operating in Syria quietly, using the fighting of other groups as camouflage. But over time, they systematically took over large portions of northern Syria. Crimes of extreme barbarism and mass murders, also attributed to Assad, were clearly the work of ISIS, who particularly targeted Christians, Alawites, Shia Muslims, and other minorities. Women and children were viciously tortured and murdered and men were systematically shot, beheaded, or crucified.  These are the hallmarks of ISIS, not Assad. From there, the short steps to acquiring, and deploying chemical weapons were a logical progression.

There are scores of fighting groups participating in the Syrian war. All are ostensibly there in Syria to fight the Assad regime, but they frequently change names, alliances, and even their missions. They fight Assad’s military and they fight each other. So understanding the situation clearly and fully is a daunting task. Not all the groups have the capability or the interest in engaging with chemical weapons. But ISIS has shown a clear interest. In fact, of them all, ISIS has proven to be the most effective and the most deadly.

It has been fashionable throughout the Syrian war that began in 2011 to attribute all the atrocities of the war to Syrian President Bashar Assad, and it is certainly true that his forces have been responsible for many of them. But the easy explanation may not always be the true story.

On March 19, 2013, Assad blamed an alleged chemical attack against Khan Al-Assal near Aleppo on the rebels. He immediately called for a UN investigation of the attack. However he changed his mind when other CW attacks were reported by the US, Britain, and France and the UN decided to expand the investigation. After several months of negotiations, UN inspectors received permission to go to the sites of Khan Al-Assal and two other alleged attacks.  At Syria’s insistence, their mandate was limited to reporting only on whether chemical weapons were used and not on who was responsible.

Many stories about the gas attacks abounded in 2013. According to sources in Syria, the perpetrators may well have been ISIS, which was known to be operating in both northern Syria and the area around Damascus, although al Nusrah, another al Qaeda affiliate , took credit for the Damascus attack. The various reports which both appeared in the media and through private channels were at once confusing and enlightening.

The US administration immediately adopted the position that Assad was responsible for all the gas attacks. In referring to the August attack, US UN Ambassador Samantha Power said “only the regime could have carried out this large-scale attack.” According to Power, the quality of the sarin was higher than that used by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein against Iran, and there was no evidence that the rebels possessed the nerve agent or the ability to deploy it. But lack of evidence is not proof, and the reference to Saddam Hussein’s old store of CW was a red herring, since it was likely that the gas came from Syria.  Syria was known to have an active program of developing and storing large stores of chemical and biological weapons.

On May 6, 2013 the Washington Times reported, “Testimony from victims strongly suggests it was the rebels, not the Syrian government that used Sarin nerve gas during a recent incident in the revolution-wracked nation quoting a UN source.”

Carla del Ponte, a member of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, added in an interview with Swiss TV, that her commission had not found evidence of Assad government forces using chemical weapons.  They were referring to an earlier attack for which critics of Assad were already holding him responsible.

The Washington Times article featured videos of terrorist forces preparing and then firing what they claimed were chemical weapons which they referenced to specifically as “sarin gas”. One of the weapons was clearly marked in English “Saudi Factory for Chlorine and Alkalies”. The evidence presented in the article is compelling proof that they were not perpetarted by he Assad military.

Reports from sources on the ground in Syria indicated that a Syrian army base near Damascus had been overwhelmed by terrorists, who had stolen chemical weapons and rocket launchers from the stores there. There are a number of stories regarding what happened next.

According to media reports, there were several attacks from rocket mounted chemical warheads against the Ein Tarma, Moadamiyeh and Zamalka neighborhoods of Ghouta near Damascus. One report was that the weapons exploded prematurely as they were being transported through a tunnel, killing and wounding several of the terrorists.  Another report that the weapons were in fact fired from an area close to Damascus was released at the same time. Both are consistent with what we have been told by other sources and the stories are not mutually exclusive.

Finally, there is the question of what happened to the Syrian chemical weapons stores that the UN was tasked to destroy. On September 4, 2014, the Special Coordinator for the Joint Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations (OPCW-UN) reported to the Security Council that 96 percent of Syria’s declared stockpile had already been destroyed and preparations were underway to destroy the remaining 12 production facilities. The operative word in that sentence is “declared”. The report flies in the face of our sources, who report that in fact only 11% of the CW stores were actually destroyed. Much of the remaining weapons were moved into the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon (Hezbollah territory) and into the many caves located in the mountains that flank the valley.

The remaining chemicals were hidden in secret locations in Syria. On October 14,  2014  according to the Associated Press and  reported by Israel National News, Syria revealed the existence of four secret chemical weapons facilities, locations that had been previously hidden from UN inspectors when they were destroying what they thought was Assad’s complete chemical weapons stores. No doubt there are more, and whatever Assad’s reason for revealing these sites now, his announcement raises far more questions about Syria’s CW program than it answers.

Prior to the UN involvement in shutting down the Syrian CW program, some CW were undoubtedly stolen by ISIS as they continued to take over territory in the north. The capture of the al-Saphira chemical plant near Aleppo in December 2012 was an early sign that chemical weapons were a clear target of the al Qaeda-linked groups, al Nusrah and ISIS. Connect that to the latest reports from Kobani and a starkly graphic picture emerges of how freely ISIS has been willing to use chemical weapons against innocent civilians. Their latest has been what appears to be mustard gas against the remaining citizens of that Syrian city. Combined with their total lack of constraint on the use of CW, the former Hussein Ba’athist commanders who have joined ISIS have the necessary experience and knowledge to enable ISIS to use them without compunction. The mix is lethal and barbaric.

The Daily Mail reported that Iraq officials had CCTV pictures of ISIS fighters loading equipment from the abandoned Hussein era Al-Muthanna complex in June 2014 with an estimated 2,500 rockets containing Sarin gas.  The Daily Mail reported:

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said remnants of a former chemical weapons program are kept in two bunkers there.

‘The project management spotted at dawn on Thursday, 12 June 2014, through the camera surveillance system, the looting of some of the project equipment and appliances, before the terrorists disabled the surveillance system,’ Alhakim wrote in the letter dated June 30.

‘The Government of Iraq requests the  Member States of the United Nations to understand the current inability of Iraq, owing to the deterioration of the security situation, to fulfill its obligations to destroy chemical weapons,’ he said.

[…]

The last major report by U.N. inspectors on the status of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program was released about a year after the experts left in March 2003. It states that Bunker 13 contained 2,500 sarin-filled 122-mm chemical rockets produced and filled before 1991, and about 180 tons of sodium cyanide, ‘a very toxic chemical and a precursor for the warfare agent tabun.’

Regarding the potential of ISIS’ ability to use captured former Hussein era CW caches, the National Post reported a former British Colonel who suggested that it may be capable of using them to make dirty bombs, ISIS could make dirty bombs with CW, former British Colonel says.  The NP special report cited the British expert saying:

Hamish de Breton-Gordon, a former colonel, issued the warning after it was found that two large stockpiles of shells filled with mustard and sarin gas had not been made secure, either under the American occupation or when Iraqi forces controlled the areas north of Baghdad before this summer.

Mr. Breton-Gordon said ISIS had shown it was determined to use chemical weapons in Syria and its advance in Iraq had put dangerous material within the group’s grasp.

“These materials are not as secure as we had been led to believe and now pose some significant threat to the coalition in Iraq fighting ISIS,” he said.

“We know that ISIS have researched the use of chemical weapons in Syria for the last two years and worryingly there are already unconfirmed reports that ISIS has used mustard gas as it pursues its offensive against the Kurds in Kobani.”

“They certainly have access to the Al-Qaeda research into chemical weapons and will want to use the legacy weapons in Iraq.” ISIS seized the Muthanna State Establishment, where Iraqi chemical agent production was based in the Eighties, this summer.

The New York Times (NYTreported Wednesday that last year, two contaminated bunkers there containing cyanide components and sarin gas rockets as well as other shells which had not been encased in concrete and made safe.

It also reported that another large bunker where U.S. Marines found mustard shells in 2008 was overgrown and abandoned during the same visit.

The NYT reported that the US Army recovered more than 5,000 abandoned CW shells over the period from 2004 to 2011.

Watch this NYT video of the special CW report.

Connect the dots.  Was ISIS involved with gas attacks in spring 2013 and the August 2013 sarin attacks in Damascus?   In addition, there is Spyer’s MERIA report of a mustard gas attack that killed Kurdish YPG fighters in July 2014.   Did the ISIS attackers used Mustard gas looted from the Al-Muthanna complex as cited in the NP report by a British expert?

Whatever the history of ISIS’ learning curve, it is clearly rapidly becoming  a force to be reckoned with. In only a few short years, ISIS has acquired a formidable capability to undertake genocidal attacks in both Syria and Iraq akin to that perpetrated against Kurds in Halabja in 1988.  The choice which now faces the West is not whether to stop ISIS on its deadly rampage against civilization, but how to do so effectively and permanently? To do otherwise will be to unleash ISIS against targets worldwide and put our civilization as we know it at terrible deadly risk.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of victims of the sarin gas attack in Ghouta, Syria vicinity,  August 21, 2013. Source: Reuters

Remember when the New York Times said ‘Americans Should Embrace Shariah Law’?

In 2011 I wrote a column raising concerns about an op-ed in the New York Times saying America should embrace Islamic shariah law. Fast forward to today and the emergence of the Islamic State (IS), which is based, by its own admission, on shariah law. I have decided to republish my original column for all to reflect upon.

New York Times: Americans Should Embrace Shariah Law

Originally published September 4, 2011

An op-ed piece titled “Don’t Fear Islamic Law in America” appears in the New York Times. The column is written by Eliyahu Stern, Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Intellectual and Cultural History at Yale University. Professor Stern states, “Today, we need an Abrahamic ethic that welcomes Islam into the religious tapestry of American life.”

Professor Stern goes on to say, “The crusade against Shariah undermines American democracy, ignores our country’s successful history of religious tolerance and assimilation, and creates a dangerous divide between America and its fastest-growing religious minority.”

The New York Times editorial board, by publishing this column, endorses Professor Stern’s premise – shariah law must be embraced by America.

First, I would like to briefly show how Professor Stern misunderstands Jewish law (Halacha) and projects that misunderstanding to support his premise that we should embrace shariah law, which calls for his own death as a Jew.

Second, I would like to present how Professor Stern makes a fatal assumption – that shariah compliant individuals easily and over time fully assimilate into non-Islamic societies.

Rabbi Jonathan Hausman in the New English Review regarding differences between Halacha and Sharia in an article, “Halacha, Sharia and the Religious Acceptance of Constitutional Governance”, states:

“Simply stated, there is a basic Rabbinic principle that has operated since roughly the year 226 CE. That principle is known as Dina d’malchuta Dina; the law of the country is binding and, in certain cases, is to be preferred to Jewish law/Halacha.

[…]

Samuel, the leader of the Babylonian Jewish community in 241 CE, specifically imbued his community with the consciousness that one must be reconciled to changed circumstances regarding government, and that civil law is necessary for the functioning of the greater society. The result was an internal recognition of Judaism’s non-supercessionist and non-conversionary character. According to the Prophet Nehemiah, Jews should obey the laws of their rulers (Nehemiah 9:37).”

This Rabbinic principle is embedded in Christian principles and attributed to Jesus in the synoptic gospels, which reads, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

So both Jewish and Christian principles recognize “civil law is necessary for the functioning of the greater society.”

Does shariah law have the same principle of “render unto Caesar”?

According to Rabbi Hausman, who is trained in both Halacha and studied doctrinal Islam as a graduate student in Egypt, the answer is no! Rabbi Hausman points out, “Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the direct word of Allah delivered to the last and greatest prophet Muhammad. Therefore, it is immutable, perfect, unchangeable, static, and unchanging. What can’t be derived from the Qur’an may be gleaned from the Sunna, which relates how Muhammad conducted his life in practice, and is considered by Muslims to be immutable for all time.”

Rabbi Hausman finds in shariah Islam: Religion is the State and the State is the Religion. Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, establishes the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Treaties, and Federal Statutes as “the supreme law of the land.” This is compatible with both Jewish and Christian principles. The Supremacy Clause flies in the face of shariah law.

Therefore Professor Stern’s historical comparison of the treatment of Jews and Jewish law in America and shariah law is at best misleading and at worse patently false.

Now for the issue of assimilation.

Historically, have Christians, Jews and Muslims fully and completely assimilated into other societies? The answer is yes for Christians and Jews. We find that while Christians and Jews have been subjected to unspeakable persecution by a variety of societies from the time of Pharaoh, to ancient Rome, to Nazi Germany to Arab countries in the Middle East, they have worked to assimilate.

The opposite is true of those who adhere to shariah Islamic law. As shariah law spreads in non-Islamic societies it demands seperate but equal status. Additionally, in predominately shariah compliant nations Jews, Christians and all other non-believers are categorized as infidels, a term of derision. They are forced to assimilate or are persecuted. But what says this? The Qur’an, specifically the following verses 2:190-193:

[2:190] Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.

[2-191] And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

[2-192] And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

[2-193] Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah . But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.

Fitnah refers to the First Islamic civil war, in 656–661 AD, a prolonged struggle for the caliphate after the 656 assassination of the caliph Uthman ibn Affan. The Second Fitna, or Second Islamic civil war, is usually identified as the 683–685 AD conflict among the Umayyads for control of the caliphate. The third one refers to the taifas in the end of the Caliph of Córdoba’s rule.

Professor Stern misses the practical application of shariah Islam in countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, etc. For Americans to embrace shariah law requires embracing Fitnah against America.

Professor Stern is asking Americans to sell the rope to shariah Islamists, that will be used to hang us.

New York Times admits Obama not born in U.S.?

The New York Times, in a back handed way, has joined the Obama not born in the United States movement. In the September 8th, 2014 New York Times crossword puzzle the 6 DOWN hint is: First president born outside the continental U.S.

The answer is OBAMA.

08 Sep 14 New York Times Crossword Solution

Image is courtesy of NYTCrossword.com.

NYTCrossword.com states:

6. First president born outside the continental U.S. OBAMA
Despite rumors to the contrary, I am pretty sure that Barack Hussein Obama II was indeed born in Hawaii. President Obama was born on August 4, 1961 at Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is the first president to have been born outside of the continental US.”

A July 2014 Rasmussen poll on conspiracy theories found forty-one percent (41%) of Republicans believe Obama is not an American citizen, compared to 21% of unaffiliateds and 11% of Democrats. Just over 20% of Republicans and unaffiliated adults also are not sure, but only seven percent (7%) of those in the president’s party share that doubt.

Has the New York Times joined with those who believe Obama is not an American citizen? We report, you decide.

The New York Times Censors anti-ISIS ad

The New York Times will publish the most awful Abu Ghraib photos but will not publish a picture of an ISIS terrorist holding a knife standing alongside an American.

Rabbi Shmuley

Rabbi Shmuel “Shmuley” Boteach, “America’s rabbi.”

This World – The Values Network founder Rabbi Shmuley in an email states:

‘America reinforces its values and thus its security by being transparent about even the worst abuses of those values, not by hiding the evidence deep in a file drawer.”

This sentence is from a New York Times editorial of August 30, 2014. The editorial was written in response to a decision by Federal district court Judge Alvin Hellerstein forcing the Obama administration to justify why it will not release approximately 2,000 photos that allegedly document abuse by the American military and investigators in Iraq and Afghanistan, which begs the question of why The New York Times forced us to remove a photograph of a hooded ISIS executioner holding a knife while standing by American journalist James Foley. We were forced to remove the photograph and replace it with one without a knife in order to have the ad appear this Tuesday in the Times.

Why did the Times condemn the American government for trying to suppress images of alleged abuse on the part of the American military, while it seeks to suppress the horrors of the world’s most monstrous terrorist organization, which decapitates Americans? But even that was a lot better than The Los Angeles Times that demanded the removal also of a second image which depicted Hamas terrorists standing alongside hooded “collaborators” which they were about to execute. The Telegraph in London demanded the same in order for the ad to be published.

Even The Wall Street Journal demanded the picture with the knife be replaced.

Here is the ad that the New York Times refused to publish:

SHMU-ISIS-NYT

For a larger view click on the image.

ABOUT RABBI SHMUEL “SHMULEY” BOTEACH

Rabbi Shmuel “Shmuley” Boteach, “America’s rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the founder of This World: The Values Network, the world’s leading organization promoting universal Jewish values in politics, culture and the media. The international best-selling author of 30 books, he has recently published Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

Arizona AG Horne refuses to recognize Stealth Jihad of the Gulen Movement

arizona ag horne

Arizona Attorney General Thomas Horne

Yesterday, the usual restrained, moderate informative format of the Lisa Benson show ended in an uproar.  The kerfuffle was over the refusal of incumbent Arizona Attorney General Thomas Horne to recognize the stealth jihad agenda of the Gulen Movement here in the US.  Horne, a former Democrat is in the final days of a fractious Republican primary that ends Tuesday amidst accusations of alleged abuse of office encompassing campaign funding and resignation of former aides objecting to questionable practices. This has resulted in investigations by the FBI and his own department’s Solicitor General.

The New York Times  article, “Legal Woes Pose Hurdles for Attorney General Tom Horne of Arizona in Campaign” chronicled Horne’s problems in a mid- July 2014 article indicating that he had been abandoned by luminaries in the State Republican Party  over accusations of questionable practices.   His opponent in the primary battle, Mark Brnovich is making much of these accusations.  Horne’s presence came as a result of a call from his campaign office requesting time to defend his support of the Gulen science and math academies.  We had Nidra Poller back on the program to address the blood libel of the Al Dura affair. That concerned the 55 second video on France 2 TV news of the faked death of a 12 year Palestinian youth, Mohammed al Dura, on September 30, 2000 in Gaza.  That fostered a slogan used by  Osama bin Laden to justify the Al Qaeda  9/11 attack  that still appears in pro-Hamas protests across Europe and here in the US during the current Gaza war: ‘ Israel murders Palestinian children’.  Poller is the author of Al-Dura: the long range ballistic myth.

When the matter of Turkey came up in the discussion with Attorney General Horne, this writer discussed the background of how Sufi Sheikh Mohammed Fethulleh Gulen came to be a resident alien in a fortified compound in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. This followed his flight from prosecution by the then secular Turkish government in 1998. We also noted his 2008 US Department of Homeland Security immigration hearing and support from a number of leading figures in the Islamic and US political firmament.  Those endorsements came from the likes of former President Clinton and Professor John Esposito of Georgetown University Center for Muslim Christian Understanding endowed by Saudi billionaire Prince Talal. We also discussed the contretemps between Turkey’s newly elected President, former Premier Recep Erdogan and Sheikh Gulen over massive charges of corruption by the former. These two had been allies ousting the long term secular rule of Turkey’s military and political parties in the tradition of Kemal Ataturk, first President of the Turkish Republic.  Sheikh Gulen is said to control a fortune estimated at over $25 billion, including media outlets, such as Turkey’s leading news daily, Today’s Zaman.  Erdogan has been a supporter of Hamas, ISIS and al Qaeda Affiliates and engaged in gold for gas schemes with Iran stifling US and EU attempts  at sanctioning the Islamic republic ‘s nuclear development program.  He is often referred to as the rising Sultan of the new Turkish Caliphate. Not to be upstaged, Gulen has been characterized as the most dangerous Islamist in the world because of the GM’s Hizmat (service)  control  of nearly 80 percent of  enrollment in Turkey’s preparatory schools, as well as the global network of GM controlled academies.

Both Erdogan and Gulen are united in opposition to Israel, once an ally to Turkish secularists and now accused of “enslaving Palestinians in Gaza”.  Both were particularly incensed over the May 2010 assault on the Turkish vessel the Mavi Marmara during which Israeli naval commandos killed 8 Turks and one Turkish American that tried to pierce the Gaza blockade.  The Mavi Mamara is owned by a global radical Muslim charity based in Turkey, IHH that has supplied funds and weapons to both al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria.

Nidra and I drew attention to Turkey as a questionable member of NATO, whose request for entry to the EU had been rebuffed for years over charges of human rights abuses and denial of due process under the 11 year term of Erdogan and his party’s super majority in the Turkish Parliament.

But the main issue was the world wide network of 1,100 GM Schools in over 100 countries. In the US there are more than 135 GM charter schools with an enrollment exceeding 50,000 in more than 26 states; 12 of which are in Arizona. All funded by taxpayers in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. We noted the private investigations that had been conducted in 12 states and the FBI raids on GM schools in Louisiana and Illinois over abuses of students and other allegations.   We discussed legislation passed in Tennessee and under consideration in Louisiana and Mississippi. See our June 2011 presentation, Unveiling Gulen Schools in Tennessee.  Those legislative proposals contain restrictions on the proportion of foreign workers brought in under the HB 1 visa program as administrators and faculty at charter schools specifically targeting the abuses by the GM operated science and mathematics academies.  We told how state legislators were often entreated by free trips to Turkey to sample the cuisine, culture and vibrant economy of the country.  GM US academy sponsoring groups have also made contributions to the political campaigns of state legislators in those jurisdictions that have granted charter licenses.

A caller drew attention to a report on a GM Sonoran academy in Tucson that Attorney General Horne had visited in his capacity as the former Superintendent of Public Instruction for Arizona, an elected post.  Lisa Benson cited pamphlets that she found extolling the virtues of the GM movement, Turkish nationalism and the Sheikh’s version of Islam. However, she also evidence of rejection of genocide. At that Attorney General Horne interjected saying that was concerning Armenian genocide and not the holocaust. Horne who is Jewish said that he came from a family of Shoah survivors and had relatives in Israel.   Horne is a graduate of both Harvard University and its Law School. Doubtless, he should have known that Hitler who fomented the murder of six million European Jewish men, women and children,  predicated the final solution of the Holocaust based on the West’s indifferent reactions to the plight of millions of Armenians lost in the Ottoman jihad death marches  during WWI.

 He justified his defense of the GM academies in Arizona by the academic performance of Gulen charter school students. Moreover, given the history of Jews during the holocaust, he indicated that it was unseemly to criticize another religion, in this case, Islam.  Notwithstanding, the presentation of information we provided on the GM academies in the US and the stealth jihad agenda of the GM doctrine propounded by Sheikh Gulen,  he saw nothing that would cause him to investigate their operations in Arizona.  This is notwithstanding the evidence of both state and FBI investigations in other jurisdictions.  Lisa Benson noted that he endorsed the Gulen even after she presented him with open source information that they supporter him when he was Superintendent of Public Instruction in Arizona.  Horne suggested to Benson that he wanted to focus on the charter schools run by La Raza rather than on Gulen. La Raza is an extremist Latino group were fostering rejectionist views of America replete with posters of Argentine Cuban icon, Che Guevara were the problem du jour for Horne.

Horne told Benson that, “I am not soft on Islam issues, but I don’t see anything wrong with Gulen.” Yet he would not admit that Islam could be so overt and obvious. My co-host Lisa Benson reacted angrily to Horne’s comments.  Horne came with an agenda to yesterday’s program. It was to put both he and his GM supporters in Arizona in the best possible light.  As I said in an after program dialogue with both Benson and Attorney General Horne, he came with a closed mind not to engage in meaningful dialogue. Problem is that he evinced no curiosity about the evidence presented. That was not his purpose; it was trolling for votes in a hotly contested Republican primary for the top law officer position in Arizona.

Listen to the podcast of the Lisa Benson Show of August 24, 2014 with Nidra Poller and Arizona Attorney General Thomas Horne.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Sufi Sheikh Mohammed Fethulleh Gulen and is courtesy of HizmetNew.com.

Florida’s State Senator Alan Hays takes up a new cause: D’Sousa’s film America

We know from our work with Florida State Senator Alan Hays (R District 11-Umatilla) that once he signs on to important legislation he is virtually unstoppable. That was the case in his four year battle to get a unique version of American Law for American Courts (ALAC) passed and enacted into law in the Sunshine State. Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, Florida Christian Family Coalition executive director Anthony Verdugo and I know his effectiveness, up close and personal, from working with him on the successful passage of ALAC in the 2014 legislative session.

Senator Alan Hayes

Florida State Senator Alan Hays

But that wasn’t all, he led the charge in the Florida Senate passing important legislation during the same legislative session assuring that world history texts used by school local districts are reviewed to assure that they are both accurate and fact-based. Back in the 2012 we also worked with him in successfully passing a Florida version of the Stand with Israel Resolution with unanimous bi-partisan vote.

Now, Hays has a new cause. According to an article in the Hollywood Reporter, Hays will introduce a one page bill in November 2014 mandating the viewing of Dinesh D’Souza’s new docudrama, America: Imagine the World Without her  in 1,700 Florida public middle and high schools, unless objected to by parents.  D’Souza’s also produced the docudrama 2016: Obama’s America. His latest film launched this month is based on the companion book by the same title, currently No. 2 on the New York Times best seller list. This despite the rising conservative media star D’Souza’s  political finance legal problems.

Watch the Trailer for America.

The Hollywood Reporter report noted Hays’ reasons for his proposed legislation:

Hays said the purpose of his proposal is to introduce more balance into Florida schools.

“I saw the movie and walked out of the theater and said, ‘Wow, our students need to see this.’ And it’s my plan to show it to my colleagues in the legislature, too, before they’re asked to vote on the bill,” Hays said.

I’ve looked at history books and talked to history teachers and the message the students are getting is very different from what is in the movie,” Hays said. “It’s dishonest and insulting. The students need to see the truth without political favoritism.”

“The most dreaded disease in America today is political correctness. We need to inform our students of our whole history, and teach them how to think, not what to think,” Hays said. “Let them talk with their teachers, their peers and their parents, then draw their own conclusions. But they need both sides, and this movie shows a side they just aren’t seeing.”

Hays said his intent is to reach out to charitable groups that would supply schools with the necessary copies of the movie so as not to burden Florida taxpayers.

As Hays noted, that might mean pairing off D’Sousa’s  with  the oeuvre of liberal filmmakers currently shown in Florida’s schools. The Hollywood reporter noted:

To that end, Hays said he wouldn’t object if teachers paired America with a liberal film to show the political differences. Indeed, many schools already show Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and some of Michael Moore’s left-leaning films, though it’s certainly more unusual to actually require the viewing of a particular movie, as Hays intends with his bill.

We wish Hays the best on his new cause. American history, taught in public school classrooms, doesn’t need inaccurate politically correct meta narratives passed off as truth.  Bravo to our friend Sen. Hays for picking up the cudgel on this important initiative.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review.

The Tunnel Attack that Triggered Israel’s Ground Incursion in Gaza

In the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, July 17th, prior to a five hour UN –negotiated Humanitarian Pause, the IAF intercepted 13 black clothed terrorists emerging from a tunnel near the Shalom Keren frontier with Gaza. Spotted by an armed IAF drone, they quickly scampered back into their tunnel and were promptly dispatched by missiles.  Calm returned with the onset of the Humanitarian Pause holding to 3PM Israel time when with a roar a barrage of more than 130 rockets rained down from Gaza on Southern and Central Israel signaling the end of the Pause.  At 4:52 PM local time, the IDF announced its limited ground incursion with the express purpose of destroying those Gaza tunnels and underground armories containing upwards of 12,000 rockets and missiles. Israel had flooded Gaza with hundreds of thousands of leaflets announcing that civilians should flee targeted areas.  The ground incursion opened with  strikes by IAF F-16s and both naval and IDF bombardment of targets in Gaza. 80 Percent of Gaza was plunged into darkness with the loss of power.

idf soldier with captured weapons in gaza

IDF Soldier with captured Tunnel attack weapons. Source: Times of Israel.

The New York Times reported:

“We will strike Hamas and we are determined to restore peace to the state of Israel,” the military spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, told reporters in a conference call. “It will progress according to the situation assessment and according to our crafted and designed plan of action to enable us to carry out this mission.”

Israel began to draft 18,000 reservists, adding to 50,000 already mobilized in recent days; Colonel Lerner said the ground forces would include infantry and artillery units, armored and engineer corps, supported by Israel’s “vast intelligence capabilities,” air force and navy.

Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, called the invasion “a dangerous step.”

Israel’s ground incursion in Operation Protective Edge is eerily familiar.  It looks like the continuation of Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and 2009 aborted on President Obama’s inauguration,  January 20, 2009. 22 days passed in that first operation endeavoring to root out Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets hidden in tunnels and underground launching sites by terrorist rocketeers.

Virtually on the heels of Hamas’ takeover following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from northern Gaza in August 2005, those terror rockets fell on the Eshkol region of the Western Negev using homemade Qassem rockets.  Then over the ensuing nine years the deadly barrages swelled to cover the heavily populated central and northern areas including  Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Rockets fell near hotels in the resort area of Eilat on the Red Sea.  Rockets were launched from Lebanon and from Syria on Israel’s North  and the Golan.  But the main threat was the Hamas arsenal in Gaza equipped with locally manufactured M-75, Iranian-supplied longer range Grad, Fajr-5 and Syrian made M-302 rockets with ranges from 10 kilometers to 160 kilometers.  Besides drone, F-16 and helicopter attacks, the only defense against the rain of death from Gaza was the Israeli-developed Iron Dome System.  That was deployed during the eight day Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 with batteries of Tamir anti-rocket missiles. Those Iron Dome batteries have achieved an impressive 90% interception success rate against rockets intended for populated areas in Israel.  The cease fires with Hamas  that Israel brokered  via Egypt in those previous episodes never achieved the complete destruction of the underground tunnels.   We note that IDF says the removal of Hamas leadership is nor an objective in the current ground incursion.

At the start of Operation Protective Edge it was estimated that Gaza held more than 10 to 12,000 rockets and missiles. As of the start of the ground incursion today, the IDF estimated that it hit more than 2,000 targets , while Hamas  had  launched more than 1,300 rockets at Israel.   Those retaliatory actions by the IDF have resulted in an estimated 250 deaths and 2,500 injuries of both terrorist cadres and civilians in Gaza.  Actions  about which the IDF  warned intended targets with cell phone text messages, leaflets and non-explosive missiles knocking on roofs sending occupants scampering.  However, Hamas security was accused of useing human shields, a war crime. As PM Netanyahu said on a Sunday FoxNews Report on July 13th, “Israel defends its people with missiles, while Hamas defends its missiles with its people.” The Israeli toll prior to the ground incursion was one man killed by a mortar attack at the Northern Erez crossing caught while delivering food to IDF troops. There were reported  elderly heart attack deaths  shrapnel and explosive injuries to both Jewish and Bedouin citizens.

Warnings  of incoming rockets was communicated to Israelis by a new means, a Red Alert app downloaded to iPhones and Android equipped cell phones that pinged every time an incoming rocket was detected heading to their intended targets. Several hundred thousand downloads of the Red Alert app signaled  the threat of incoming rocket and missile barrages that occurred over the 10 days preceding today’s ground incursion in Gaza.

This morning I was co-host with Lisa Benson in a recorded interview with both Jon Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Shoshana Bryen of the Jewish Policy Center. That interview concerning the status and actors involved in Operation Protective Edge will air on Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 4PM EDT.  Schanzer drew attention to the IAF interception of terrorists caught emerging from a tunnel close by the Shalom Keren crossing.  When queried about whether Israel might unleash its long awaited ground incursion, Schanzer said “all bets were off” meaning that it was increasingly likely.  Bryen  noted that the  US Senate doubled an appropriation funding the Iron Dome System. She  cautioned that even with a high interception  rate there was no guarantee that the few rockets that got through would not result in casualties and damage; witness the fiery hits on factories and gas stations in Sderot and Ashkelon.   Hamas launched an Iran supplied Ababil drone promptly intercepted by a Patriot missile.

See the thwarted tunnel attack that occurred prior to the IDF ground incursion in Gaza:

The Jewish Week noted these comments from  a former IDF spokesperson about the significance of the tunnel attack:

Despite Israel’s aerial and sea assault against Hamas rocket launchers, command and control centers and other visible targets, Israel was unable to get at the network of tunnels that form a virtual underground city in the 25-mile long Gaza Strip.

That became most pronounced just hours before the cease-fire began when 13 Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip were spotted emerging from a tunnel inside Israel, according to Miri Eisen, the former Israeli government spokesperson during the Second Lebanon War.

“A woman observer saw them come out of the tunnel and when they heard the sound of a UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle], they ran back into the tunnel and the tunnel was attacked,” she said.

“In the last 10 days we have seen Hamas as a paramilitary organization, now we have seen the transition to a full-scale military, firing rockets and trying to attack Israel from the land, sea and air — and underground,” Eisen said in a conference call organized by The Israel Project. “They are trying to attack Israeli communities that are located around the Gaza Strip.”

[…]

Eisen added: “At the end of the day we’re not sure we actually killed the terrorists, but they dropped all their weapons — 15 antitank missiles and personal Kalashnikovs and ammunition.”

She said they were planning to attack a kibbutz and kidnap an Israeli soldier.

Shades of  Galid Schalit , the former IDF soldier  kidnapped during the Second Lebanon War in 2006  and held in captivity by Hamas for five years until released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in October 2011.  One of the demands by Hamas for a cease fire in Operation Protective Edge was the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel who participated in Schalit’s kidnapping.

Ms. Eisen’s comment about who was paying for construction of the tunnels and underground armories of Hamas was the subject of an op ed by Steve Emerson of  The Investigative Project just prior to the Israeli ground incursion,  “Hamas-Israel Cease Fire, its déjà vu all over Again”.

Emerson noted:

What happened to President Obama’s promises to Israel, as part of the November 2012 cease-fire agreement, to stop the flow of missiles to Gaza? In two words: Absolutely nothing. … The Obama administration focused its efforts on getting Israel to lift its blockade on steel and concrete, the two major building components of underground tunnels and storage facilities for munitions, on “humanitarian grounds.” Despite the administration’s much ballyhooed November 2012 “cease-fire” agreement that the Obama White House prided itself in bringing an end to the Israeli-Hamas war, somehow Hamas never got the message: From December 2012 to July 1, 2014, Hamas fired nearly 600 missiles into Israel.

Who funded the building of underground armories by Hamas that triggered the IDF current ground incursion? It is the gas rich wealthy emirate of Qatar who provided  over $400 million to ‘restore’ Gaza following the November 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense.  A Qatar noteworthy by its hold on the Administration given its role in filtering arms to Libya to overthrow Qadaffi and into Syria.   Qatar provides a luxurious sanctuary for Hamas leaders and senior Taliban commanders including those released from Guantanamo in exchange for captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

There was scrambling in Cairo with separate meetings PA President Abbas, Israeli and Hamas delegations. The difference this time is Egyptian President el-Sisi overthrew former President Morsi who brokered the November 2012 cease fire to save his Muslim Brothers of Hamas in Gaza. This time Egypt blamed Hamas for perpetrating the current IDF operation which might have the potential of destroying those tunnels and sending Hamas leaders to exile in Qatar.

Pray for the save return of IDF service personnel and success of this phase of Operation Protective Edge destroying the terror rockets  and Tunnels of Hamas in Gaza.

Watch this You Tube video MiSheberach Zahal:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/LJEpLklULs0[/youtube]

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review.